An empty lot on 12th Avenue will keep its current zoning after an application to have it rezoned for multi-family residential failed to reach third reading at the District of Invermere (DOI) council meeting on August 7.
The application to rezone the lot from R1 (single family) to R2 (multi-family) was met with overwhelming opposition by many of the surrounding neighbours at a public hearing in July.
Despite the vocal opposition, DOI mayor Gerry Taft voted in favour of the rezoning as did Councillor Spring Hawes, with councillors Greg Anderson and Justin Atterbury voting against. Councillor Paul Denchuk was unable to vote due to conflict of interest as he is one of several business partners who own the lot.
“That field was actually identified in the Official Community Plan (OCP) as an area for multi family residential in the future,” Taft told The Valley Echo. “I really felt that we have to sometimes act the way we talk and if we’re going to talk this way we sometimes have to try and make the decisions to follow through.”
Half of 12th Avenue is already zoned R2, he said.
The OCP, which was formally adopted in 2002, was created with public input, but what tends to happen, said Taft, is that unless something is impacting someone personally, they don’t tend to get involved.
“It generally seems both the official community plan, also the sustainability plan, when we’re trying to create them and we’re trying really hard to get consultation and public input, we usually get the same 20 people who are really involved and really contribute,” he said. “(Then) there’s this application in their neighbourhood and all of a sudden they become super involved citizens for that one issue.”
The OCP is intended to provide developers with some guidance into future land use, and since the lot had been identified for low density multi-family residential, in Taft’s estimation, it made sense the application was put forward.
The intention for the lot was to build a multi family four-dwelling unit, with the building work to be done locally and consistent with Smart Growth strategy.
“When you take a look at from the whole picture an the whole community, I felt that a four-plex is completely reasonable in that neighbourhood, it’s reasonable in pretty much any neighbourhood in this community, and with the proper controls in place, potentially some covenants in place restricting parking and resell and design and different aspects, I think it’s something we could manage and fit into this and almost any neighbourhood without any negative impacts,” Taft said.
Smart Growth strategy and higher density infill within the community were two of the guiding principles when the OCP was originally created. It was been identified by the DOI that the OCP needs to be updated and aligned with the district’s sustainability plan.
“Now that we’ve experienced some of that and there has been some projects go forward, there’s definitely some negativity towards this, and we’re going to have to really ask the philosophical question whether or not that’s something people support,” Taft said.
“What makes it tough with OCPs and sustainability plans, is when you look at the issues from the 30,000 foot level and the philosophy level, everyone agrees there should be more affordable housing and there should be different types of housing, there should be places for young people and places for seniors, we want to live in an accessible collaborative community… everyone agrees on it and everyone keeps agreeing until the point when it means an impact on them or an impact on their neighbourhood,” he said. “Somewhere there’s a disconnect there and somewhere we have to try and get to people and really really hammer down what is the philosophy you are willing to agree on and what are you also willing to live with on your own street.”